The highly-curated artist lineup, hippie-vibe and unique camping experience at California’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has made it one of the most beloved music events, since its inception in 1999. The idea of Coachella was conceived by chance, when the turnout at Pearl Jam’s desert concert inspired to-be founders Paul Tollet and Rick Van Santen to consider the feasibility of other such events. If a concert could be so successful, how well would a full-fledged festival do? Thus, Coachella was born.
The maiden edition, held over two days in October 1999, featured headliners Beck, Rage Against the Machine and Tool. Also on the lineup were A Perfect Circle, Jurassic 5, Morrissey, the Chemical Brothers and Underworld, to name a few. With a footfall of 37,000, Coachella fell short of its goal of 70,000 and had to take a year off to reorganize. Despite this, it was well-regarded by critics, with a few calling it the festival of the year. It returned as a single-day event in 2001 and did just as well as the previous edition.
However, it was the third edition that really got the ball rolling and for the first time, Coachella almost broke even. By the time it entered its fifth year the festival had sold-out and gained worldwide fame. The starry presence of the likes of Radiohead and Coldplay helped elevate its status among musicians and fans alike.
Since then, Coachella has grown to become one of the premier music festivals in the world, with artists across genres vying to book a concert at the multi-day fiesta. Some of the biggest names in the industry including Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Eminem, Beyoncé, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Calvin Harris, Drake, Muse, Dr. Dre, Kanye West and Jay-Z have graced its stage over the years. Keeping up with the times, the festival organizers have made Coachella available to fans who cannot physically attend, via YouTube live stream.
What makes Coachella stand apart from its contemporaries is its constant desire to promote artistry over fame. Today a legacy in its own right, there is no stopping Coachella from growing by leaps and bounds with each passing year as long as it stays true to itself.
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